Apart from being in the e-commerce fulfillment business, I'm also an avid online shopper who receives packages almost daily. Not all packages are created equal.  The best packages excite and delight the receiver. 

For example, I recently ordered a set of sheets from Boll & Branch, and they came wrapped in a pretty black satin bow with a beautiful card. Compare that to Amazon, whose boxes all look the same--a drab brown color with a few air pillows stuffed inside. 

Almost half of people report doing the majority of their online shopping on Amazon, according to a Dotcom Distribution eCommerce Consumer Study. For everyday items, like trash bags and laundry detergent, this is perfectly fine. However, when buying luxury and lifestyle goods,the packaging often leaves shoppers wanting more.

When it comes to buying stuff online, appearances do matter--especially to younger people. The same Dotcom Distribution study found that 43 percent of Zoomers (or Generation Z) are excited to receive and open a branded/ gift-like package. Moreover, nearly 40 percent of Millennials have shared an unboxing video or image, which is some of the best free advertising a brand can hope for. 

Rather than fear Amazon, e-commerce companies can truly set themselves apart, build brand love and increase sales by making the un-boxing experience just as memorable as your product itself. Here are three ways to make your brand distinct:

Make the packaging beautiful. 

For most e-commerce brands, the first time your customer interacts with your product is when they receive package. The look of the packaging can make a big impact on their experience with your company.

Let's start with branding itself. To really delight the receiver, the package shouldn't be just any box--it should be obvious that it's your package. Think about the packaging for Apple: You know a product is Apple as soon as you see it from the sleek white packaging, simple apple logo, and minimalist design.

For Birchbox, one of Dotcom Distribution's former clients that grew from being an emerging to an established brand, the unique box was a constant. While Birchbox's simple logo on the outer cardboard box remains constant, the box color and design itself changes, as does the tissue paper inside, to match the monthly theme. This gives the receiver both a sense of familiarity (key for brand recognition) and a sense of surprise (boosting the customer's anticipation). 

Also consider how you can activate your customer's senses beyond only sight and touch for a more memorable experience. For example, you might consider adding a few drops of scented water to the package's tissue paper or dried flower petals.

Offer freebies. 

It's no surprise that customers like freebies: In fact, 43 percent would be more likely to make future purchases with a brand that included a free giveaway in their order, according to our e-commerce customer study

Examples include product samples, coupons, or entries in prize drawings. A skincare company may include a sample of a new eye cream product in the box along with your purchase of, say, night cream. Freebies can be a good way of liquidating slow-moving inventory: If you're an apparel company, you can offer a "grab bag" or "surprise bag" of a slow-moving item that is relevant to the current purchase.

Special offers for your customers that will help keep them coming back could be a buy-one-get-one free offer or 20 percent off coupon on their next order. You might also consider offering  loyalty programs (where shoppers get exclusivity, such as special discounts or first access to new products). 

Include a personal note. 

For e-commerce brands where customers aren't interacting with sales people in real life, including personal touches such as thank you-cards or notes about the product can go a long way towards better connecting with your consumers.

Dollar Shave Club is a good example of how to use humorous messages on your package to help amplify your brand identity and personalize your brand for customers. Their little brown box for storing old blades says, "I'm too old for this "#$%*." On-the-box instructions to change the blade each week includes a quote that reads, "I like shaving with a dull razor. ~No one, ever." 

Birchbox packages have a pretty card tucked inside explaining each of the products in that month's box with a note from the founders, helping to personalize the experience for subscribers. A Dotcom client, Outlier, adds in brand stickers that creates lasting brand recall in their customers' mind.

The bottom line is that e-commerce brands have a distinct edge over Amazon: the ability to create a memorable experience from the moment your box lands in your customers' hands. By making sure it stands out, creates a personal connection, and is unique to your brand, you'll keep your customers coming back for more.